How to Choose a Safe Car for a Teen Driver

Here's how to find a car everyone will agree on.

A dad and his son shop for a car.
Choosing the right car can ensure that teens—and their parents—are happy behind the wheel.
LightField Studios / Shutterstock

Getting a driver’s license is an important milestone for both teens and parents, but the two may have different opinions when it comes to selecting the ideal car. Although “fun” and “stylish” may be key features for teens, AAA understands that parents are more concerned with safety.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens, resulting in thousands of fatalities and many more severe injuries each year. Parents can help protect their teens, who are statistically the riskiest drivers on the road, by selecting a safe car.

Here are a few tips to consider when choosing a car for your teen:

  • Steer away from vehicles that encourage reckless driving. Sports cars and high-performance vehicles with a lot of horsepower may encourage speeding and unsafe driving.
  • Pick a vehicle with the right safety features. Teens should drive vehicles with sufficient protection in case of a crash. New cars are likely to be equipped with the latest safety gear. If you’re considering an older car, check for anti-lock brakes, air bags, and electronic stability control at a minimum.
  • Don’t let your teen drive an unstable vehicle. Sport utility vehicles, especially smaller ones, tend to be less stable than cars because they have higher centers of gravity. Rapid steering maneuvers—when a driver over-corrects to avoid an obstacle—can cause rollovers in less stable vehicles. Drivers in cars with a lower center of gravity have a better chance of safely managing an emergency situation.
  • Before you buy, check the online safety ratings of the cars you are considering for your teen. AAA offers extensive resources to help you evaluate vehicle safety. Contact your local AAA office if you need more information.

Insurance for teen drivers can be more expensive since new drivers have yet to establish a track record of safe driving. To learn more about your coverage, cost, and discount options, speak to a AAA insurance representative.